JET Programme Series: Japan: Where did you go? - La Toya Nicholls

JET Programme Series: Japan: Where did you go? - La Toya Nicholls
JET Programme Series: Japan: Where did you go? - La Toya Nicholls
JET Programme Series: Japan: Where did you go? - La Toya Nicholls

JET Programme Series: Japan: Where did you go? - La Toya Nicholls

JET Programme Series: Japan: Where did you go? - La Toya Nicholls
“So, what have you been up to Toya? Where did you go?”

They say your life can change a lot in a year but for me it was just 4 months in the land of the rising sun. Admittedly, I didn’t pose for the camera much because I was too busy absorbing the sites. For once, I wanted to be present and not vain. 
To genuinely capture what my eyes dreamt of seeing since childhood and, to immerse myself in the culture and document my new journey via vlogging for family, friends, future generations and any onlooker to see. 

Japan has taught me bravery and strength.
 It has trained me on how to adult.
 It has shown me that there is rich culture beyond the hemisphere of my birth and, that as much as it is so different, that all of us being of the universal race; human, we are still just the same. 
We all still rise up early every morning to start our work day. 
We all still text while on the bus and laugh at silly messages we receive from our friends. 
We all still look at the clock to see how much hours until lunch time and then home time. 
We’re all still happy to have a long weekend.
We all still enjoy a good cup of hot chocolate on a cold day.

Guys I won’t lie, my start here was not the easiest to say the least. From apartment settling to suitcase shipping and all the back and forth with signing up for a bank account in between. Sometimes the thoroughness of their services can be to a foreigner’s disadvantage but I reckon moving into any new space would not be all peaches and cream. I even felt like my official/assigned support system in my prefecture weren’t as supportive as they should be and it was literally a jump from the pot of assumptions and mystery to the fire of reality as a foreigner in a space where you don’t speak the language of the general population. 
Missing my mother and my friends is expected. Questioning if it’s worth it is the norm for any expat. But, I’ve opted for looking at the learning curves and my homesickness as experiences for character development and not the start of my villain story. Haha!

“So what did you do Toya? Where did you go?” Well, I’ve been the expat that I pledged to be! Monday to Friday between the hours of 8:30am to 4:15pm I’ve been educating my students on English and Trinbagonian culture with as many lesson plans as I possibly can. You can’t imagine how happy I am to hear my students say, “Sensei, you make English fun!” or “Sensei, I want to learn steelpan!” 

Speaking of steelpan, my friends in Kobe made it their business to have me attend Pan Festival there where I was pleasantly surprised to see so many of my Trinbagonian culture and to a greater extent, Caribbean culture present, from the steelbands to the mini Trini flags and T-shirts for sale. The people really decided to make me a flag woman that day and I waved my flag like I wanted to tell the onlookers with each sway that I was indeed ah Trini! My Trini heart smiled seeing them chip to the rhythm of the chello and tenor pans and pointing to their mini Trini flags as though to tell us, “Hey, I know where calypso and steelpan music come from” despite being unable to speak a lick of English. 

The month of October was my school’s cultural festival which is the equivalent to what any Trini secondary school student would dub a “school bazaar”. The difference? Instead of just being about games, food and an after party, my school also showcased all of their clubs and talents from hip-hop dancing to practicing the traditional tea ceremony and many other theatre arts showcasing in between. I was pleasantly surprised to see there was a LGBTQIA+ club that raised funds for more visibility within the school. They even gave you a bag of your choice for your donation. 

In between I’ve been exploring the main shopping zones of my city, ordering food through Uber eats and having izakaya and karaoke dates with my new found community here in Japan with not just Japanese folk but also people from Wales, Scotland, America, New Zealand and even Mauritius. 

In conclusion, I’ve been up to regular daily living in one of the coolest countries in the world and making new friends who I probably would have never met had I not move here. Now that I’m a settled native, you’d see a whole lot more soon on my Koi Fish and Dragons vlog. Stay tuned. 
JET Series: Where did you go? (Japanese Embassy's Facebook) 

JET Programme Series Archives